Owned by a Hackney Wick-based couple, Tuck Shop on Fish Island is a new community-focused grocer and bottle shop, demonstrating how easy and enjoyable sustainable food shopping can be.
Despite only launching a couple of months ago, Tuck Shop has already become the go-to grocer for many Hackney Wick residents.
The store was founded by locals Jake Costain, 38 and Samantha Scott, 35 who’ve been Hackney Wick residents for four and nine years, respectively. A young couple whose enthusiasm for good food and using it to bring people together is incredibly inspiring.
What started as a passion project, stemming from wanting to create a store they would want to visit in their local area, has materialised into an ethically conscious and modern store for their community. The couple were joined by Brodie Moore, 32, a hospitality veteran who came on board to help bring their vision to life.
Scott is an avid foodie who grew up in Tasmania, where food was frequently plastic-free and homegrown. She explains: ‘We started thinking about Tuck Shop around two years ago when we realised that there wasn’t a food shop like this in our area. We wanted to sell food that showed people how good local produce could be while making it convenient for them to shop sustainably.’
One of the key ideas behind Tuck Shop was to create a local store that had everything you need to create a meal from scratch. As well as staples like milk, bread, meat, and fresh vegetables, customers can pop in and peruse pastries from Chow, a local baker who lives about 50m away from the shop, buy cheeses from Neals Yard Dairy and top up their wine rack with a bottle of natural wine from a nearby vineyard. It’s a far cry from the usual stressful supermarket shop.
When Costain went freelance a few years ago, he found he had the flexibility to start splitting his time between his graphic design jobs and working at delis and butchers across London. He eventually trained as a butcher, where he learnt about ethical meat suppliers and where to source the best produce locally.
He was keen to use this experience to ensure that the meat sold in Tuck Shop was produced from local farmers, who cared about their animals. Sourced from Butchery Limited, a supplier that Costain was introduced to through his butchery training, who focus on sourcing meat from farmers based in Hereford, Kent and Gloucster, who pasture raise their animals. Scott says jovily: ‘We get a lot of compliments on how good the meat we stock is. People comment that the chicken tastes really chicken-y!’
Scott has a communications background, which has been integral for making sure the business gets its name out in the community. Her branding and marketing expertise helped them raise over £6,000 from just one CrowdFunder campaign and get the project off the ground. Her enviable time management has meant that she’s been able to work full time alongside co-managing and expanding Tuck Shop.
The co-founders’ passion for supporting local suppliers and businesses plays into all their decisions about what ends up on their shelves. When asked about any standout suppliers that they stock, they name-check Tom’s Pasta, a Hackney-based pasta maker who creates delicious aubergine parmigiana and lasagne, and Hodmedods, a refill pulse and grain supplier who work with farmers across the UK.
Scott describes how a lot of supermarket ingredients often have huge carbon footprints and they were keen to make sure the products they stocked were as locally sourced as possible. She elaborates: ‘As it is our own business, we get to choose what we do to make sure we have a positive impact on the environment.’
Since they’ve opened, they both feel much more connected to their community than before. Costain explains: ‘We have regulars who come in every day to say hello and pick up groceries. It’s also given us the chance to make connections in the community with creative people with whom we can work with as we grow.’
Despite having been open for just over two months, there are already big plans for the future of Tuck Shop. They talked about offering online delivery, a move that would open their business up to reach people outside of Hackney Wick and help raise the profile of sustainable food shopping.
While there’s currently a breakfast bar space where people can enjoy small plates and a glass of wine in the shop, Scott says that they are keen to run things like supper clubs and pop-up nights in the future. She explains: ‘We ask customers all the time what they would like to see us stock. We always have space for more products and want to make sure that we reflect what people want. This shop is for the community as well as for us and we want to involve them in it as much as possible.’
If you enjoyed reading this article, then take a look at our interview with the family and owners behind Roman Road’s Whole Fresh.
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